Introduction to American Government



Introduction to American Government

Semester: SPRING 2020 Section: 87-36428

Instructor: Darlene Haines Class Meets: TBA Jan 17 – May 14, 2020

Email: Room: ONLINE

Office Hours: By appointment only Phone/Text: 559-797-1321

Remind: Text @fsu87 to 81010 to join OR go to


This course meets the United States Constitution requirement and the federal, California state, and local government

requirement. Not open to students with credit in PLSI 101. The development and operation of government in the

United States; study of how ideas, institutions, laws, and people have constructed and maintained a political order in

America. Not available for CR/NC grading. G.E. Breadth D2.


• American Government 2e. Krutz, Glen and Sylvie Waskiewicz. Feb 21, 2019. OpenStax: Creative

Commons. ISBN: 978-1-947172-65-4


The text is available in electronic version free by using the following link:


• Field, Mona (2018). California Government and Politics Today, 15th edition. Pearson Education: New York, NY.

ISBN: 978-0-13-462710-6


• Computer or e-device


• Good internet connection


PREREQUISITE: GE Foundation A2 for students in English college-readiness Category III and IV.


Students will be able to critically analyze political and ideological debates regarding important issues, understand the

proper role political representation plays in a democratic society, design and enact public policy in the public interest,

and effectively assess the consequences of those policies as they become political leaders, public managers, private

sector attorneys, for- profit/nonprofit managers, and even professional scholars.


Meets the United States Constitution requirement and the federal, California state, and local government requirement.

The development and operation of government in the United States; study of how ideas, institutions, laws, and people

have constructed and maintained a political order in America. Not available for CR/NC grading. G.E. Breadth D2.


Upon completing a course in Area D2 (American Government), a student will be able to:

1. Explain the structure of the governments of the United States of America and the State of California.

2. Recognize the major political philosophies regarding the role of government articulated in current political


3. Assess the meaning of representation in a democratic system of government and the pathways through which

citizens may seek representation.




While these guidelines are not all encompassing, they do provide a basic idea of acceptable behavior for you to

follow. Failure to follow these guidelines could result in the following: (1) Meeting with the instructor; (2) Loss of

points earned in class; (3) Other disciplinary action and/or removal from class.

1. Proper online etiquette should be used at all times. This includes the following:

• Participate: This is a shared learning environment. No lurking in the cyberspace background. It is not enough

to login and read the discussion thread of others. For the maximum benefit to all, everyone must contribute.

• Report Glitches: Discussion forums are electronic. They break. If for any reason you experience difficulty

participating, please call, email, or otherwise inform me of the issue. Chances are others are having the same


• Help Others: You may have more experience with online discussion forums than the person next to you.

Give them a hand. Show them it’s not so hard. They’re really going to appreciate it!

• Be Patient: Read everything in the discussion thread before replying. This will help you avoid repeating

something someone else has already contributed. Acknowledge the points made with which you agree and

suggest alternatives for those with which you don’t.

• Be Brief: You want to be clear—and to articulate your point—without being preachy or pompous. Be direct.

Stay on point. Don’t lose yourself, or your readers, in overly wordy sentences or paragraphs.

• Use Proper Writing Style: This is a must. Write as if you were writing a term paper. Correct spelling,

grammatical construction and sentence structure are expected in every other writing activity associated with

scholarship and academic engagement. Online discussions are no different.

• Cite Your Sources: Another big must! If your contribution to the conversation includes the intellectual

property (authored material) of others, e.g., books, newspaper, magazine, or journal articles—online or in

print—they must be given proper attribution.

• Emoticons and Texting: Social networking and text messaging has spawned a body of linguistic shortcuts

that are not part of the academic dialogue. Please refrain from 🙂 faces and c u l8r’s.

• Respect Diversity: It’s an ethnically rich and diverse, multi-cultural world in which we live. Use no language

that is—or that could be construed to be—offensive toward others. Racists, sexist, and heterosexist

comments and jokes are unacceptable, as are derogatory and/or sarcastic comments and jokes directed at

religious beliefs, disabilities, and age.

• No YELLING! Step carefully. Beware the electronic footprint you leave behind. Using bold upper-case

letters is bad form, like stomping around and yelling at somebody (NOT TO MENTION BEING HARD ON


• No Flaming! Criticism must be constructive, well-meaning, and well-articulated. Please, no tantrums. Rants

directed at any other contributor are simply unacceptable and will not be tolerated. The same goes for

profanity. The academic environment expects higher-order language.

Review your written posts and responses to ensure that you’ve conveyed exactly what you intended. This is an

excellent opportunity to practice your proofreading, revision, and rewriting skills—valuable assets in the professional

world for which you are now preparing.

Hint: Read your post out loud before hitting the send button. This will tell you a lot about whether your grammar and

sentence structure are correct, your tone is appropriate, and your contribution clear or not.

**Essentially, any behavior that disrupts the class will not be tolerated.





Information on student rights, responsibilities, academic honesty, etc., can be found on the Fresno State Student

Conduct web page



In this course you will have four exams, one final exam, 20 quizzes, 11 discussion boards, and one reflective essay.

Exams may consist of multiple choice, True False, matching, multiple answer, and/or essay questions. Specific

instructions will be given in class. It is usually expected that students will spend approximately 2 hours of study time outside of class for every one hour in class. Since this is a 3 unit class, you should expect to study an average of

6 hours outside of class each week.


Throughout the course you will be required to log on to CANVAS and complete a total of 20 quizzes. Each quiz will

consist of 5 questions worth 2 points each for a total of 10 points. Once you enter a quiz the timer will begin and you

will have 15 minutes to complete and submit the quiz. You may have THREE attempts. Correct answers will be

available only once after each attempt. Each attempt may have the same, similar, or different questions. Canvas will

record your highest attempted score. CANVAS Quizzes are due on their specified due date, however if the quiz is

available after the due date, you may still submit it late without penalty (think of this as a grace period). Quizzes

cannot be made up without a valid excuse. If you experience technical difficulties you must let the instructor know

as soon as possible.



All Exams will only be available on their scheduled due date until 11:59pm. You will have 75 minutes to complete

50 questions. You will only see one question at a time and you will not be able to skip questions and go back. All

Exams must be completed in one sitting. The Final Exam is not comprehensive.


Writing Assignments:

The writing assignment will adhere to the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. Specific assignment

guidelines are available on Canvas. Writing assignments must be uploaded and submitted on Canvas.


Reflection Paper: this writing assignment will be a reflection paper on your political thoughts and attitudes

of American government and politics and what you have learned in this course. You must

upload and submit this paper on Canvas. Specific guidelines will be provided at the appropriate time in the

class and on Canvas.


Discussion Boards: These assignments will require you to conduct research on a specified topic and post to a

discussion board. In order to receive credit, you must post your summary analysis and respond to at least two other

posts. It is expected that you will write enough to develop your thoughts on the subject presented and support your

opinions with educational research. The more you think and write the more credit you may receive. Your post must

be in essay format using MLA and provide a Works Cited with links to sources used and properly use in-text

citations (see Canvas Announcements for Guidance). You should not include any assignment questions in your

response. Remember to be respectful when commenting on opinions that may differ from yours. See rubric in

Canvas for more details. Any discussion board post may be used for e-Portfolio.



Late assignments will be accepted until the availability date with penalty. Students who miss Exam 1-4 will have an

opportunity to take a Make-up exam. Make-up exams will only be given to students who make prior arrangement

BEFORE the scheduled exam or can provide valid proof (Doctors appointment, family emergency, etc.) that missing

the exam could not be avoided. The Make-up exam must be taken within one week of the original exam date. If a

student fails to schedule the make-up exam and/or misses the extension, the Make-up exam cannot be taken and the

student will receive a zero. The Make-up exam may be different than the version taken on the scheduled exam date

and may consist of all essay questions. “I forgot” or “I didn’t know” are not valid excuses to make up an Exam

or Assignment.






“Members of the Fresno State academic community adhere to principles of academic integrity and mutual respect

while engaged in university work and related activities.” You should:

a) understand or seek clarification about expectations for academic integrity in this course (including no

cheating, plagiarism and inappropriate collaboration)

b) neither give nor receive unauthorized aid on examinations or other course work that is used by the

instructor as the basis of grading.

c) take responsibility to monitor academic dishonesty in any form and to report it to the instructor or

other appropriate official for action.



Upon identifying themselves to the instructor and the university, students with disabilities will receive reasonable

accommodation for learning and evaluation. For more information, contact Services to Students with Disabilities in

the Henry Madden Library, Room 1202 (559) 278-2811.



For free tutoring on campus, contact the Learning Center ( in the Collection

Level (basement level) of the Henry Madden Library. You can reach them by phone at (559) 278-3052. Our campus

has developed SupportNet ( to connect students with specific

campus resources promoting academic success. Students may be referred to SupportNet if the instructor believes they

need the services provided to be successful in the course.



“Cheating is the act or attempted act of taking an examination or performing an assigned, evaluated task in a

fraudulent or deceptive manner, such as having improper access to answers, in an attempt to gain an unearned

academic advantage. Cheating may include, but is not limited to, copying from another’s work, supplying one’s

work to another, giving or receiving copies of examinations without an instructor’s permission, using or displaying

notes or devices inappropriate to the conditions of the examination, allowing someone other than the officially

enrolled student to represent the student, or failing to disclose research results completely.”


“Plagiarism is a specific form of cheating: the use of another’s words or ideas without identifying them as such or

giving credit to the source. Plagiarism may include, but is not limited to, failing to provide complete citations and

references for all work that draws on the ideas, words, or work of others, failing to identify the contributors to work

done in collaboration, submitting duplicate work to be evaluated in different courses without the knowledge and

consent of the instructors involved, or failing to observe computer security systems and software copyrights.

Incidents of cheating and plagiarism may result in any of a variety of sanctions and penalties, which may range from

a failing grade on the particular examination, paper, project, or assignment in question to a failing grade in the

course, at the discretion of the instructor and depending on the severity and frequency of the incidents.”



A student’s first responsibility is to attend class and learn. The University expects students to attend

all classes for which they are enrolled. Instructors may establish specific attendance regulations and

make-up work policies governing their classes and must provide them to their students at the

beginning of the semester.


Unplanned student absences

Unplanned student absences should be authorized when the student has a short-term serious

and compelling medical condition or when a death or serious illness in the immediate family

(i.e., parent, spouse, sibling or child) prevents attending class. The student is responsible for

contacting the instructor as soon as possible after the missed class period and for providing

documentation of the reason for the absence upon returning to class. In the event the student

absence is authorized and make-up work is allowed, missed papers, tests and/or homework

assignments should be made up as soon as practicable. Students with extensive absences



should recognize the consequences of missing class on both their learning and grade. When a

student is absent for an extended time period, a viable make-up plan may not be feasible. In

these circumstances, other actions such as dropping the class or withdrawing from the

University may be appropriate.


Absences for University-sponsored activities

In creating a schedule for a semester when a student can anticipate increased demands on

his/her time, the student must judiciously schedule courses. Reciprocally, faculty have the

obligation to limit both class activities/assignments and official University-sponsored

activities/events that require a student to miss other classes. Student absences for University sponsored activities

should be authorized only when: (1) the event is sponsored by the University; (2) the student represents the

University at the event; and (3) the student provides written documentation of points one and two to the instructor at

least two weeks prior to the event. In anticipation of authorized absences due to University-sponsored activities

students may submit their work to the instructor prior to the absence. This includes papers, tests, and/or homework




“All faculty members shall be free to pursue instruction, grading, scholarship, policy discussions, and public

discourse in an environment free of intimidation and censorship. All faculty members shall exercise their academic

freedom in a manner that promotes the University’s mission and that abides by the Institutional Code of Ethics (AP

3050). The merit of academic ideas, theories, arguments, and views shall be measured against the established

standards of relevant academic and professional organizations. Academic freedom includes freedom of inquiry and

instruction for every faculty member, including freedom in presenting and discussing subjects related to his academic

discipline. Academic freedom also includes, but is not limited to, freedom to:

1. Inquire about, present, and explore difficult and controversial material that is relevant to the official course

outline of record;

2. Express differences of opinion with and among students, faculty, staff, and administration on academic


3. Demonstrate, teach, and defend critical thinking skills and intellectual honesty.


Every faculty member is a member of a learned profession and shall have the freedom to use his professional

scholarship, and present this scholarship in any academic discourse.




Exams (5) 100 points each 36% (500 points)

Quizzes (20) 10 points each 14% (200 points)

Discussion Boards (1) 30 points

(10) 50 points each

38% (530 points)

Student Success Quizzes (2) (10 points each) 1% (20 points)

Reflective Essay (150) points 11% (150 points)

TOTAL 100% (1,400 points)














A 1,400 points to 1,260 points

B 1,259 points to 1,120 points

C 1,119 points to 980 points

D 979 points to 840 points

F 839 points and below






Unit 1

Discussion Board: Introduction

Discussion Board: Purpose of Government

Read: Chapter 1 – American Government & Civics

Quiz 2 – Democracy

Read: Chapter 2 – The Constitution

Quiz 3 – The Constitution

Discussion Board: Checks & Balances

Read: Chapter 3 – Federalism

Quiz 4 – Federalism

Discussion Board: Autonomous Vehicles


Tues, Jan 21

Thurs, Jan 23


Mon, Jan 27


Wed, Jan 29

Thurs, Jan 30


Wed, Feb 5

Thurs, Feb 6

Mon, Feb 10, 2020

Unit 2

Read: Chapter 4 – Civil Liberties

Quiz 5 – Civil Liberties

Discussion Board: Masterpiece Bakery Case

Read: Chapter 5 – Civil Rights

Quiz 6 – Civil Rights

Discussion Board: Affirmative Action



Wed, Feb 12

Thurs, Feb 13


Wed, Feb 19

Thurs, Feb 20

Mon, Feb 24, 2020

Unit 3

Read: Chapter 6 – Public Opinion

Quiz 7 – Public Opinion

Read: Chapter 8 – The Media

Quiz 8 – The Media

Read: Chapter 7 – Voting & Elections

Quiz 9 – Participation & Voting

Read: Chapter 9 – Political Parties

Quiz 10 – Political Parties

Discussion Board: Electoral College

Read: Chapter 10 – Interest Groups

Quiz 11 – Interest Groups

Discussion Board: Interest Groups

Read: Chapter 7.4 – Campaigns & Elections

Quiz 12 – Campaigns & Elections



Thurs, Feb 27


Tues, Mar 3


Thurs, Mar 5


Tues, Mar 10

Thurs, Mar 12


Tues, Mar 17

Thurs, Mar 19


Fri, Mar 20

Mon, Mar 23, 2020

Unit 4

Read: Chapter 11 – The President

Quiz 13 – The President

Read: Chapter 12 – The Bureaucracy

Quiz 14 – The Bureaucracy

Discussion Board: The Fourth Branch

Read: Chapter 15 – Congress

Quiz 15 – Congress

Discussion Board: U.S. House of Representatives

Read: Chapter 13 – The Courts

Quiz 16 – The Courts



Wed, Mar 25


Tues, Mar 31

Thurs, Apr 2


Tues, Apr 14

Thurs, Apr 16


Fri, Apr 17

Mon, Apr 20, 2020

Unit 5

Read: Chapter 16 – Domestic & Economic Policy

Quiz 17 – Social Policy

Discussion Board: U.S. Crime Policy

Quiz 18 – Economic Policy

Read: Chapter 17 – Foreign Policy

Quiz 19 – Foreign Policy

Read: Chapter 14 – State & Local Government

Read: California Politics and Government


Reflective Essay


Wed, Apr 22

Thurs, Apr 23

Tues, Apr 28


Fri, May 1


California Chapters TBD

Mon, May 11, 2019

Tues, May 12, 2019





COURSE TOPICS: 1. Study both the theory and practice of “democracy.”

2. Research the forces and political philosophies that influenced the founding fathers of the United States and the

framers of the Constitution.

3. Compare and contrast the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution of the United States of America,

including a discussion of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist factions.

4. Review the role played by the U. S. Constitution in (a) creating our federal system of government, with its

subsequent divided responsibilities, and (b) establishing the separation of powers and checks and balances principles

at the national level, as well as the implications of such.

5. Examine the federal system as a practical device to accommodate—within one government—national and local

needs unique to the United States.

6. Evaluate the relationship between the Bill of Rights, the government, and the concept of “civil liberty,” noting that

liberty is both the absence of governmental intrusion and the result of a set of guarantees that protect the individual

against the excesses of government.

7. Assess the idea of civil rights as the rights of all citizens to equal protection of the law, as provided in the 14th

Amendment of the Constitution. Students will also explore the development of civil rights, using the evolving civil

rights of African-Americans and other groups as examples.

8. Consider his/her role as a voter in the United States political system, and survey the varying forms and systems of

elections used in the United States, including primary elections, general elections, California referendum and

initiative elections, California recall elections, and the electoral college.

9. Gain an understanding of the characteristics of the American political party system and the functions parties serve

in the process of governing.

10. Analyze the issues surrounding the development of public opinion, and its influence on the formation of public


11. Examine the influence of different means of mass communication (media)—both news-based and entertainment-

based—on the development of public policy, and the techniques employed by each.

12. Evaluate the positive and negative effects of the countervailing influences of interest groups in American politics,

the tactics of interest groups, and the means employed for keeping them honest.

13. Appraise the powers and limitations of the office of the President of the United States, and examine the roles

he/she plays as a ceremonial, political, administrative, military, and legislative leader.

14. Examine the various powers/roles of Congress, different theories of representation, and the strengths and

weaknesses of the legislative, or lawmaking, process.

15. Study the role of the national courts in interpreting the Constitution, shaping individual rights, and determining

the distribution of governmental power. Students will also consider the subtleties of constitutional interpretation,

noting that the Constitution is a living document that adapts to changing needs.

16. Explore the vastness and complexity of the bureaucracy. Students will investigate the different national

departments and agencies, the characteristics of their growth and evolution and the mechanics of reorganization and

reform; and to comprehend the difficulties of effective reform.

17. Examine the programs in the area of domestic policy intended to promote “the general welfare.”

18. Investigate the forces that shape American foreign and defense policy.

19. Study the structure, major functions, and significant powers of both the State of California and local

governmental entities. Additionally, students will examine the relationship of state and local institutional powers to

the concept of Federalism and survey various examples of direct and indirect democracy at the state and local levels.


The instructor retains the right to change or modify this syllabus as necessary.

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